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Bingru Huang

Drought is a major factor limiting the growth of turfgrasses in many areas. The functional relationship of drought stress and accumulation of various ions in turfgrasses is not well understood. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of drought on root growth and accumulation of several major nutrients in three tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) cultivars varying in drought tolerance (Falcon II = Houndog V > Rebel Jr). Grasses were grown in well-watered or drying (nonirrigated) soil for 35 days in a greenhouse. Drought conditions limited total root length to a greater extent for `Rebel Jr' than for `Falcon II' and `Houndog V', while specific root length (SRL) was greater in `Falcon II' and `Houndog V' than in `Rebel Jr'. Concentrations of N, P, and Mg decreased, whereas those of K, Ca, and Fe increased, in shoots of drought-stressed plants of all three cultivars. Root N was not affected, but root P decreased in `Rebel Jr', and root K decreased in all three cultivars under drought conditions. Drought reduced the proportions of N and P in shoots and increased those in roots, while increasing the proportion of K in shoots and decreasing that in roots. During drought stress, both `Falcon II' and `Houndog V' maintained higher K concentration in shoots, and `Falcon II' in roots, than did `Rebel Jr', but `Rebel Jr' and `Houndog V' had higher Fe concentration in shoots than did `Falcon II'. The higher K and lower Fe accumulations in shoots could contribute to better drought tolerance of tall fescue cultivars.

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Xiaozhong Liu and Bingru Huang

Low mowing increases ball roll distance on putting greens, but may affect growth and physiological responses to summer heat stress. The objective of this study was to examine whether the effect of mowing heights on turf summer performance was associated with changes in photosynthetic activities and respiration rate for two creeping bentgrass [Agrostis palustris (L.) Huds] cultivars, `Crenshaw' and `Penncross'. Both cultivars were grown under USGA-specification putting green conditions from 1997 to 1998. Grasses were mowed daily at a 3-mm (low mowing) or 4-mm (high mowing) height. Turf quality, net photosynthesis rate (Pn), and leaf photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) declined, whereas respiration rate of whole plants, canopy minus air temperature, and soil temperatures increased under low mowing compared to those at the high mowing height. The decline or increase in those parameters under low mowing was more pronounced in summer than in spring or fall months. The results showed that turf quality was better at the 4-mm mowing height, especially during summer months. Better quality at the higher mowing height could be related to the maintenance of higher photosynthetic activities and lower respiration rate. Mowing at the lower height had more adverse effects on turf growth and photosynthetic capacity for `Penncross' than `Crenshaw', particularly during summer months.

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Yan Xu and Bingru Huang

Summer decline in turf quality and growth of cool-season grass species is a major concern in turfgrass management. The objectives of this study were to investigate whether foliar application of trinexapac-ethyl (TE) and two biostimulants (TurfVigor and CPR) containing seaweed extracts would alleviate the decline in creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) growth during summer months and to examine effects of TE and the biostimulants on leaf senescence and root growth. The study was performed on a ‘Penncross’ putting green built on a sandy loam soil at Hort Farm II, North Brunswick, NJ, in 2007 and 2008. Turf was foliar-sprayed with water (control), TE (0.05 kg a.i./ha), TurfVigor (47.75 L·ha−1), or CPR (19.10 L·ha−1) from late June to early September in a 2-week interval in both years. Turf quality, density, chlorophyll content, canopy photosynthetic rate (Pn), and root growth exhibited significant decline during July and August in both 2007 and 2008, to a greater extent in each parameter for the control treatment. Foliar application of TE resulted in significant improvement in turf quality, density, chlorophyll content, and Pn on certain sampling dates from July to September in both years compared with the control. Both TurfVigor and CPR significantly improved visual quality during July and August in both years by promoting both shoot and root growth. This study suggests that proper application of TE and selected biostimulants could be effective to improve summer performance of creeping bentgrass.

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Yali Song and Bingru Huang

Drought and heat stress can limit the growth of cool-season grass species, whereas doubling ambient CO2 has been shown to promote plant growth. The objectives of this study were to examine differential responses of shoot and root growth as well as photosynthesis and respiration to doubling ambient CO2 during drought or heat stress alone or the two stresses combined and to determine the relative effectiveness of doubling ambient CO2 in mitigating negative effects of drought or heat stress alone and in combination in a cool-season perennial grass species. Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis cv. Baron) plants were exposed to ambient CO2 (400 μL·L−1) or doubling ambient CO2 (800 μL·L−1) concentrations while subjected to the following stress treatments in growth chambers: drought stress by withholding irrigation, heat stress (35 °C), or the combined two stresses for 28 days. Doubling ambient CO2 increased root and shoot growth as well as root/shoot ratio under all treatments. Doubling ambient CO2 enhanced leaf net photosynthetic rate (Pn) to a greater extent under drought or heat alone, whereas it reduced respiration rate (R), to a larger degree under heat and the combined stress, leading to a greater ratio of Pn/R. Doubling ambient CO2 mitigated adverse physiological effects of drought or heat stress alone, whereas fewer effects were observed under the combined drought and heat stress. The positive effects of doubling ambient CO2 were associated with the development of roots biomass and the maintenance of a positive carbon balance under either stress alone or the combined drought and heat stress.

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Bingru Huang and Qingzhang Xu

This study was designed to compare and determine root growth and nutritional responses of creeping bentgrass cultivars that differ in heat tolerance to deferential, supraoptimal shoot and root temperatures. Shoots and roots of `Penncross' (heat sensitive) and `L-93' (heat tolerant) were exposed to four differential air/soil temperature regimes (20/20-control, 20/35, 35/20, and 35/35 °C) in water baths and growth chambers. Exposing roots to supraoptimal root temperature (35 °C) while maintaining shoots at normal temperature (20 °C), or at 35 °C in particular, reduced root fresh weight, root number, the content of N, P, and K in shoots and roots, and accelerated root death for both cultivars. High root temperature had a greater detrimental effects on root growth and nutrient accumulation than high shoot temperature for both cultivars. Reducing root temperature at supraoptimal shoot temperature improved root growth, reduced root mortality, and increased N, P, and K content in shoots and roots. Among the three nutrient elements, K was the most sensitive to changes in root temperature. L-93 generally maintained higher root fresh weight and number, and N, P, K content in shoots and roots, particularly K in roots, under high root (20/35 °C) or shoot/root (35/35 °C) temperatures. The results indicated that root growth and nutrient accumulation, particularly K, played an important role in creeping bentgrass tolerance to heat stress imposed to shoots by high air temperature or to roots by high soil temperatures. Reducing root temperature under supraoptimal ambient temperatures enhanced root growth and nutrient relations, and thus could lead to the improved shoot growth in cool-season grasses as reported previously.

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Bingru Huang and Hongwen Gao

To investigate shoot physiological responses to drought stress of six tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) cultivars representing several generations of turfgrass improvement, forage-type `Kentucky-31', turf-type `Phoenix', `Phoenix', and `Houndog V', and dwarf-type `Rebel Jr` and `Bonsai' were grown in well-watered or drying soil for 35 days in a greenhouse. Net photosynthetic rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (gs), transpiration rate (Tr), relative water content (RWC), and photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) declined during drought progression in all cultivars, but the time and the severity of reductions varied with cultivars and physiological factors. Pn, RWC, gs, and Tr decreased significantly for `Rebel Jr', `Bonsai', and `Phoenix' when soil water content declined to 20% after 9 days of treatment (DOT) and for `Falcon II', `Houndog V', and `Kentucky-31' when soil water content dropped to 10% at 15 DOT. A significant decrease in Fv/Fm was not observed in drought-stressed plants until 21 DOT for `Rebel Jr', `Bonsai', and `Phoenix' and 28 DOT for `Houndog V', `Kentucky-31', and `Falcon II'. The decline in Pn was due mostly to internal water deficit and stomatal closure under short-term or mild drought-stress conditions. After a prolonged period of drought (35 DOT), higher Pn in `Falcon II', `Houndog V', and `Kentucky-31' could be attributed to their higher Fv/Fm.

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Xiaozhong Liu and Bingru Huang

Understanding physiological factors that may confer heat tolerance would facilitate breeding for improvement of summer turf quality. The objective of this study was to investigate whether carbohydrate availability contributes to changes in turf quality and root mortality during heat stress in two creeping bentgrass [Agrostis stolonifera L. var. palustris (Huds.) Farw. (syn. A. palustris Huds.)] cultivars, `L-93' and `Penncross', that contrast in heat tolerance. Grasses were grown at 14-hour days and 11-hour nights of 22/16 °C (control) and 35/25 °C (heat stress) for 56 days in growth chambers. Turf quality decreased while root mortality increased under heat-stress conditions for both cultivars, but to a greater extent for `Penncross' than `L-93'. The concentrations of total nonstructural carbohydrate (TNC), fructans, starch, glucose, and sucrose in shoots (leaves and stems) and roots decreased at 35/25 °C. The reduction in carbohydrate concentrations of shoots was more pronounced than that of roots. Shoot glucose and sucrose concentrations were more sensitive to heat stress than other carbohydrates. `L-93' maintained significantly higher carbohydrate concentrations, especially glucose and sucrose, than `Penncross' at 35/25 °C. Results suggest that high carbohydrate availability, particularly glucose and sucrose, during heat stress was an important physiological trait associated with heat-stress tolerance in creeping bentgrass.

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Qingzhang Xu and Bingru Huang

Roots play important roles in plant responses to environmental changes. The objective of this study was to investigate seasonal changes and cultivar variation in root growth, respiratory activity, nitrogen uptake, and carbon allocation in relation to turf performance for two cultivars of creeping bentgrass [Agrostis stolonifera L. var. palustris (Huds.)] under field conditions. Two cultivars, `Penncross' and `L-93', were managed under USGA-specification putting green conditions, with daily irrigation and mowing at a 3-mm height from May to November in 1999 and 2000. Turf quality of both cultivars declined from the highest rating of 7 to 9 in May to 4 to 5 in August and September, and recovered to above 7 in October and November in both years. This corresponded to seasonal changes in root dry weight, dehydrogenase activity, nitrate reductase (NR) activity, carbon allocation to roots, and 15N uptake. Compared to Penncross, L-93 generally maintained better turf quality, as well as higher root dry weight, 15N uptake, NR activity, and carbon allocation during summer months. Previous studies often emphasize the important of a large, extensive root system. The results in the present study demonstrated that root metabolic activities followed the same seasonal pattern and cultivars variation as turf performance, and suggested that decline in root metabolic activities could be contributed to summer decline in turf quality for creeping bentgrass.

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Jinmin Fu and Bingru Huang

Growth of cool-season grasses declines with increasing temperatures. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of elevated night temperature on turf quality, root mortality, and carbohydrate metabolism in creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stoloniferous L. var. palustris (Huds.) Farw (syn. A. palustris Huds.). Plants of `Penncross' were exposed to two night temperature regimes: 24 °C (higher night temperature); and 19 °C (lower temperature control) under the same day temperature (24 °C) in growth chambers for 45 days. Prolonged exposure of plants to higher night temperature reduced turf quality, canopy photosynthetic rate, whole-plant and root respiration rates during the day, translocation of newly fixed 14C assimilate to roots, and total nonstructural carbohydrate content in shoots and roots (including dead and live roots). Elevated night temperature increased root mortality and whole-plant and root respiration rates at night. Our results indicated that a decline in turf quality and increase in root dieback with high night temperature was mainly associated with increased night respiration rates of whole plant and roots and reduced carbohydrate availability.

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Bingru Huang and Hongwen Gao

Drought is among the most limiting factors for turfgrass growth. Understanding genetic variations and physiological mechanisms in turfgrass drought resistance would facilitate breeding and management programs to improve drought resistance. The experiment was designed to investigate shoot physiological responses of six tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) cultivars representing several generations of turfgrass improvement to drought stress. Grasses were grown in well-watered or drying (nonirrigated) soil for 35 days in the greenhouse. Net photosynthetic rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (gs), transpiration rate (Tr), relative water content (RWC), and photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) declined during drought progression in all cultivars, but the time and the severity of reductions varied with cultivar and physiological factors. The values of Pn, RWC, gs, and Tr decreased significantly for `Rebel Jr', `Bonsai', and `Phoenix' when soil water content declined to 20% after 9 days of treatment (DOT) and for `Houndog V', `Kentucky-31', and `Falcon II' when soil water content dropped to 10% at 15 DOT. A significant decrease in Fv/Fm was not observed in drought-stressed plants until 21 DOT for `Rebel Jr', `Bonsai', and `Phoenix' and 28 DOT for `Houndog V', `Kentucky-31', and `Falcon II'. The decline in Pn resulted mainly from internal water deficit and stomatal closure under mild drought-stress conditions. After a prolonged period of drought stress (35 DOT), `Falcon II', `Houndog V', and `Kentucky-31' maintained higher Pn than did `Rebel Jr', `Bonsai', and `Phoenix', which could be attributed to their higher Fv/Fm. This study demonstrated variation in drought resistance among tall fescue cultivars, which was related to their differential responses in photosynthetic capacity and water relations.